STORIES
Earthkeepers Heroes

Jane Goodall

by Taylor from Montvale

Born in London, England on April 3, 1934, Jane Goodall grew up on the coast of England in Bournemouth. By the age of 10 or 11 she dreamed of going to Africa to live with the animals.

“I have been interested in animals since before I could remember," Goodall shares. "When I was four-years-old, I stayed on a farm to help collect hens’ eggs. I became puzzled and asked those around me, 'Where is the hole big enough for the egg to come out?’ When no one answered to my satisfaction, I hid in a small, stuffy henhouse for some hours to find out. When my mother saw me rushing towards the house, she noticed my excitement. Instead of scolding me for disappearing so long (the family had even called the police!), she sat down and listened to me tell the wonderful story of how a hen lays an egg." Jane’s lifelong fascination with animals began at an early age.

As she grew older, her passion grew stronger. In her leisure time she observed native birds and animals, making extensive notes and sketches, and read widely in the literature of zoology and ethology. Jane’s mother, Vanne Morris Goodall (novel writer and African cook), and father, Mortimer Herbert Goodall (businessperson and motor racing enthusiast), both encouraged her to fulfill her dreams, though they had moments of doubt. Jane also grew up with her sister, Judy.

In March, 1964 Jane Goodall married Baron Hugo van Lawick, and in 1967 they had a son, Hugo. After getting divorced from van Lawick, Jane married Derek Brycson, former Parliament member.

As well as growing up in Bournemouth, she was also educated there, attending the Uplands private school, receiving her certificate in 1950 and a higher certificate in 1952. At age 18, she left school and found employment as a Secretary at Oxford University. In her spare time, she worked on a London-based documentary film to finance a long anticipated trip to Africa.

In the beginning, studying the chimps of Gombe was not easy. The chimpanzees fled from her in fear, and it took many months for her to get any closer than 500 yards from their feeding area. She searched the forest everyday (trying not to get close to them) sometimes observing them with binoculars from a peak overlooking the forest. They eventually tolerated her presence and within a year allowed her to move as close as 30 feet to their feeding area. After two years of seeing her everyday, they showed no fear and often came to her in search of bananas.

After 5 years of research, she earned a Ph.D. in ethology at Cambridge University and returned to Tanzania to establish the Gombe Stream Research Center. She has been the director of the Gombe Stream Research Center since 1967. Jane Goodall studies the lives and the behavior patterns of chimpanzees. Her research offers revolutionary inroads into scientific thinking regarding the evolution of humans. Her methodology and profound scientific discoveries have revolutionized the field of primatology. Instead of giving the chimps numbers, she gave them names. Her research laid the foundation for all future primate studies.

Jane Goodall remains one of the most renowned and respected scientists in the world. She is also the world’s foremost authority on chimpanzees. Over the years her research has shown the many striking similarities between humans and chimps. Now, the idea that more than 98% of our genetic code is common with the chimps is widely accepted. Her studies show that behavior previously believed to separate humans from other animals is also performed by chimps. This behavior is using tools. They have the ability to use straws to extract termites from nests.

She also noted that chimps have a complex social system. Their primitive “language” contains more then 20 individual sounds. She is credited with making the first recorded observations of chimps eating meat and using and making tools. She found that chimps complete ritualized behaviors. She also noted that they use touch and embraces to comfort one another, and develop long-term familial bonds. Ethologists had long believed that chimpanzees were exclusively vegetarians. Jane witnessed chimps stalking, killing and eating large insects, birds, and some bigger animals such as baby baboons and bush backs (small antelopes).

Jane Goodall has written six books, countless articles, and won numerous awards. She credits her mother, Vanne Goodall, with inspiring her to write.

In 1977, Jane founded the Jane Goodall Institute for Research, Education, and Conservation. This established chimpanzee sanctuaries for the care and rehabilitation of orphaned chimpanzees in four African countries. Jane Goodall gained fame with her research on chimps and her efforts to ensure their survival in the wild.

To show what an outstanding person Jane Goodall really is, these are a few of the awards she was presented throughout the years. In 1984 she won the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Award from the San Diego Zoological Society. In 1987 she won the Schweitzer Medal from the Animal Welfare Institute. In 1988 she won the National Geographic Society’s Centennial Award. In 1990 she won the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences. In 1995 she won the National Geographic Society’s prestigious Hubbard Medal.

Page created on 5/23/2004 5:42:17 PM

Last edited 3/30/2021 6:09:22 PM

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